November 24, 2021

November 24, 2021

Dear Friends,
 
As you sit down this year for a Thanksgiving meal, hopefully with family and friends around the table, you might take a few minutes to talk together about this insight from G.K. Chesterton.  “When it comes to life,” he wrote, “the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”
 
Maybe after the last year and a half, we are a little less likely to take things for granted.  Like being about to gather with others for Thanksgiving.  Like having food on our table.  Like having our health. 
 
I have a lot to share with you as I’ve thought about giving thanks this week.  So buckle up.  This will be a long one.
 
First up is a newspaper column published three years ago this week in the Wheeling West Virginia News-Register.  Here, reprinted without any permission, is the column written by Adam Kelly:
 
It has been my custom for several years now to share with you my own personal litany of Thanksgiving. Looking over these pieces for the last decade reveals just how strikingly repetitive they have been and Lord, what a blessing that is! My life has not changed in any great dramatic fashion over the past decade; much for which I expressed gratitude then I remain thankful for today.
 
The glorious wonder of it all is that so much of my own personal litany of Thanksgiving is for things which many would place in the category of the ordinary. But this is a marvelous time to reflect on the ordinary things which make life so full of meaning, so wonderful; things for which I am so grateful.
 
It is always difficult to express deep and heartfelt emotion through words alone. I will try this day with these of mine to express thankfulness to a merciful Creator for my continued existence in His world.
 
Family and freedom are ordinary words … except for those who cannot now experience those blessings, and so, Lord, this day I give You thanks for the priceless privileges which are mine as an American citizen … The freedom to speak, to write, to think, without government interference or control; the right to worship You in any way I choose,
 
I thank you, Lord.
 
For the joy that comes from being a member of a wonderful … ordinary … family,
 
I thank you, Lord.
 
For church, for friends, for faith, for my beloved country,
 
I thank you, Lord.
 
For the daily joy which comes from loving and being loved in return by one who has made our ordinary home a wonderful place of joy and happiness; of whom, after first we met, it truthfully can be said, “and he lived happily ever afterward,”
 
I thank you, Lord.
 
For wonderful, ordinary parents who knew the difference between right and wrong and imparted that knowledge to their children; who believed in hard work and taught us its value; who had faith in God and His ability to work wonders; who accepted the challenge of working on and under the West Virginia hills to keep us all together,
 
I thank you, Lord.
 
For the wonderful blessing of such an ordinary thing as providing me with meaningful work to perform and the physical and mental health that enables me to do it,
 
I thank you, Lord.
 
For living my days in an ordinary, wonderful, little community of peace and beauty where I am surrounded by friends,
 
I thank you, Lord.
 
From Your bounteous goodness has come to me more clothes than I can wear, more food than I can eat, a house with more rooms than I can occupy, and so for these and all the other material benefits of my life,
 
I thank you, Lord.
 
For the miracle of birth that brought us children, ordinary, healthy, happy, wonderful children; and now the added blessing of four grandchildren to give further meaning and majesty to life ongoing, in that everflowing stream meandering forever down to the sea of eternity,
 
I thank you, Lord.
 
For the dreams of those brave souls who observed that first Thanksgiving, those ordinary, wonderful people who believed that the worship of God should furnish the cornerstone on which to lay the foundation of a new nation,
 
I thank you, Lord.
 
For the courage of millions of ordinary men and women, who through more than 200 years with extraordinary bravery have defended my freedoms, who have been willing to give the last full measure of their devotion, their lives, in the defense of our great country, who have faced death without flinching so that we Americans might live out our days in peaceful freedom,
 
I thank you, Lord.
 
You know, Lord, how inadequate are mere words and phrases when we feel such desperate need to communicate what is in our hearts. And yet at the end of another day, when we overhear the soft-spoken whisper of a little girl as she talks with You, the realization suddenly comes that she has said it for all of us, especially for me, dear Lord, this Thanksgiving: “And thank you, God, for everything.”
 
 
Second, I’ll pass along this thought from writer Kevin Williamson, written last week on November 16, the feast day honoring the St. Margaret of Scotland, who Williamson points out was actually from a part of Scotland called Hungary. 
 
“She was famed for her charity and humility — the saintly basics, as it were. But the basics are worth some attention, too. With Thanksgiving close at hand, we who have been so abundantly blessed, in no small part by lucky accident of the time and place of our birth, should keep both of those in mind. Our charity should be less than exacting — we should be happy to give people not what they deserve but much more than they deserve, mindful that our own blessings so often exceed our own merits.”
 
To which I will add my “amen.”
 
Third, just before the music of the Christmas season becomes ubiquitous, we should take time for a Thanksgiving playlist.  So as a public service, here are the top seven Thanksgiving songs to meditate on tomorrow and into the weekend.
 
First, the two songs we sang last Sunday:
The Hymns Ensemble:  We Gather Together 
Dean Phelps:  Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Here’s an acapella version of a hymn I learned as a boy:
Michael Lining:  Now Thank We All Our God
Here’s Michael Card with a thanksgiving hymn set to the English folk tune “The Ash Grove.”
Michael Card:  Let All Things Now Living
Here’s CeCe Winans calling us to Give Thanks.
CeCe Winans:  Give Thanks
And this hymn that offers “grateful praise” reminds us of so many of the reasons we have for giving thanks.
Michelle Swift:  For The Beauty Of The Earth
And finally, this bluegrass version of a Ben Rector song, recorded by my favorite bluegrass band from Branson, the Petersens.
The Petersen’s:  The Thanksgiving Song
I’ll wrap it all up with the text of the Thanksgiving proclamation from President Lincoln, issued in the midst of a war that was tearing at the fabric of the nation:
 
Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
 
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
 
My best wishes to you all for a blessed Thanksgiving day celebration.  In the midst of the turkey, football and family, be sure to make gratitude the centerpiece of your holiday.

Here’s a reminder of all that’s happening this December.

Dec 5 & dEC 12 | CHILDREN’S REHEARSAL FOR THE CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS SING

dEC 4 | FIRST TUESDAY FOR MEN

On Tuesday, December 7, our First Tuesday men’s group meets to hear from Art Rainer about wise money management.  The syllabus is available for download here

Dec 11 | Ladies Christmas Gathering

dEC 12 | roots stUDENT MINISTRY | ANNUAL ugly sweater christmas party

Sunday December 12, the Roots Student Ministries will have a time of Christmas cheer.

Dec 18 | christmas party for parents & kids | 5 yrs to 5th Gr

Saturday night December 18, there’s a big shindig planned for children and their parents!
 
And don’t forget that on Friday night, December 24, we’ll gather at 5:00 pm for our annual hour-long Candlelight and Carols Christmas Eve service.

dec 24 | candlelight & carols service

On the first Sunday in Advent, we will continue to consider what Jesus told His disciples on the night before His death.  After telling them that He is the only way to the Father, Jesus tells them that they don’t have to wait until they come into the Father’s house to see and know their heavenly Father.  In fact, they already know Him and have seen Him!
 
See you in church.
 
Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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